Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles says his first season at the helm of the IndyCar Series was a learning experience and that he came away from it with a greater understanding and appreciation of the sport.
"I think I fell in love," Miles said in a recent video released by the league. "IndyCar racing is stupendous and it was so exciting all year long -- going from track to track and all the diverse ways that we race and seeing these drivers do some incredible things.
"It was a compelling experience for me."
The aspect of the sport that Miles has learned to appreciate the most is the drivers' mass appeal to a culture that is ever-fascinated by the daring and the extreme. He's also amazed by athletes that put their well-being on the line while also maintaining their ability to relate to the fanbase.
"They're unbelievable athletes," Miles said. "Every single one of them is a compelling personality that can relate to fans of any type. And what they do fundamentally, getting in this car and go out there and do highly skilled, fearless things is just amazing."
Miles most recently worked as the CEO of the Association of Tennis Professionals in a storied career that has also seen him chair the committee that brought the Super Bowl to Indianapolis in 2012. Despite the vast background, Miles believes IndyCar drivers rank amongst the top in taking time to speak to fans and engage with the media and sponsors.
"When I think about tennis and how I think players were reluctant to do an interview before a tennis match, and then I see these guys talking to their fans, sponsors on the grid before the race," Miles said. "It shows how committed they are to growing the sport."
Miles also addressed the changes that are in store for the Indianapolis 500 and the month of May as a whole. The entire month will be broadcast on ABC next season and will include the new Grand Prix of Indianapolis road course race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He expects to announce additional changes as the league approaches the 2015 season as well.
"It's more of the same but with some new things," Miles said. "Indianapolis in May is going to have whole other untraditional element to the Indy 500 (during) the 2014 schedule. And as we move toward 2015, we'll see more innovations as we go. "
Miles has made several changes since being instituted as CEO of Hulman & Co. in November, 2012. He's installed Derrick Walker as director of competition and brought in Jay Frye and CJ O'Donnell to manage the commercial and marketing departments.
The complete interview can be viewed at the top of this post. How would you rate Miles first season as the head of the IndyCar Series?